Procurement · 8 May 2020

How to stop your business being the victim of cybercrime

Director of strategy at anti-cybercrime firm, We Fight Fraud, Tony Sales, gives small businesses advice on how to avoid being a victim of digital crime…

Your business is currently more vulnerable to financial fraud than ever before. Criminals love the chaos caused by COVID-19; they feed on our fear and vulnerability. In fact, cybercrime may have grown by as much as 80% since the lockdown.

So, how can businesses protect themselves and not become, yet another victim?

  1. Do your due diligence. It sounds obvious, but too many businesses don’t do the security basics. Make sure you have secure passwords. Introduce two-step authentication. Keep records of everyone who has access to your website and e-mail. Regularly change the passwords and when people leave the company.
  2. Pay someone to expose your vulnerabilities. This should be separate to the company that manages your IT day to day as it’s not in their interests to expose the flaws in the system they manage.
  3. Check bank details for all suppliers by talking to them on the phone. If they change their bank details, check again in the same way. One of the most common scams involves hacking into accountancy software or e-mail and changing bank details for payments.
  4. Install anti-virus software on all computers and mobile devices. Good ones will alert you to suspicious calls.
  5.  Never give out any sensitive information to a cold caller. If in doubt, phone them back on the number you have from previous correspondence, or that is published on their website. Use a different phone to do this as scammers will stay on the line so they can pretend to answer the call.
  6. Never send money in response to an e-mail or a text, even from someone you know well. Scammers can appear to come from a legitimate e-mail or text number and even appear in a legitimate text thread. Some are now so sophisticated that they can mimic the tone and style of the person you normally deal with, so pick up the phone and check.
  7. Secure your WiFi by changing the password on your broadband hub. Very few people remember to do this, making life very easy for the hackers.
  8. Use public Wi-Fi with extreme caution. It is very easy for a criminal to set up Wi-Fi that appears to be legitimate. They can then mimic websites and steal your passwords and bank details. So check and double check you’re logging onto the right Wi-Fi. Even better, avoid using public Wi-Fi if you can (this is perhaps one thing that is easier to avoid right now!)
  9. Educate yourself and others on the scams. Social media (including our Facebook page) often share them.
  10. If you have employees, speak to them about the risks. Check they’re working in a secure way. Do they know not to open links in e-mails from people they don’t know?
  11. Being the victim of cybercrime is both distressing and expensive. In addition to the money lost, it will damage your reputation with your stakeholders. It is far better to invest a little now on ensuring the security of your business.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Tony Sales is one of very few people to have ever worked at the summits of both organised crime and fraud and loss prevention. Dubbed “Britain’s Greatest Fraudster” by the British media, clearly anyone with such a unique skill set is intrinsically valuable to almost any major organisation. Tony now provides advice to some of the world’s leading brands on their fraud and loss prevention strategies. The work that Tony undertakes is not just theoretical or academic. His objectives are clear: fraud and other financial crime prevention and opening people’s eyes to what they don’t see.

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